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Messages - staehpj1

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General Discussion / Re: Receiving mail on the road
« on: March 02, 2017, 08:09:59 am »
If you do miss a package, either because you pass through town when the P.O. is closed or because it's slower than expected, it's still easy to get it.  Take a piece of paper (or index card), write something like "Please forward all general delivery mail for Connie 808 to X," where X is your next best guess (2-4 days up the road, similar criteria as before).  Sign the card, date it, drop it in the "local delivery" box in the post office, and ride off into the sunset.
I have never done that, but do have another method that has worked fine.  You can stop and any post office, not just the one the package is at, and request the forwarding.  You can even do it multiple times for the same package.

On one trip we were given a large amount of dried and freeze dried food and shipped it ahead to ourselves.  We kept getting to where it was shipped before we needed it and forwarded it several times.  They didn't charge for the forwarding.  I would not ship food ahead via general delivery again unless maybe it was a mountain bike trip that was more like backpacking than bike touring, but for getting stuff from home it is a great option.

General delivery works way better than shipping to a store, bike shop, or host.  We first tried having things shipped to a business along the way (with their prior approval), but when the package arrived late we either needed to wait around, abandon the package, or have them forward it to us.  Fortunately they reshipped it ahead for us for only the cost of the postage. 

General Discussion / Re: Transamerica trail temperatures
« on: March 01, 2017, 10:00:22 am »
If you aren't already aware of it, most sleeping bag ratings are overly optimistic.  (Except for military equipment.)  My 45F bag is useless below 60.  Had to stop at a Wallymart and buy a fleece bag to put inside of it.  It's a good thing I did that, we had frost on the bags the next morning.
That is widely variable buy individual person, by how optimistic the rating is, and by how much it is supplemented by being in tent or bivy and how much clothing you wear or pile on top of yourself.

If you go by the EN ratings they should at least be consistent.  FWIW, I find my Mountain Hardware Phantom 45 to work out fine for anything but real winter camping.  I sleep on top of it if it is hot and add more clothing as it gets colder.  It has worked out well for me from hot weather down to the teens F.  A cap and a really warm loose fitting pair of socks helps immensely.  So on top of a pass with my thermometer reading 18F I was still comfy enough.  The locals claimed it was actually colder.  I apparently put out heat like a furnace though so YMMV.

It helps to not bundle up too heavily too early and get sweaty, better to adjust to the temperatures as they drop during the night.  Adjustments can be made by whether you drape the bag over yourself, zip it up, put the hood on, and pull the hood drawstring tight leaving only a small breathing opening.  Don't breathe into the bag or you will get it all damp and be colder.

You really need to find what works for you.  Advice from me, or anyone else may be spot on for them and way off for you.

Oh, and let me say again that ratings other than EN ratings are not to be trusted or even given much consideration at all.  I have used nominal 32F and even 20F bags that were not as warm as my Phantom 45. 

I found that places on the ST where I might have wanted to use it there was no surface water to filter, so it is unlikely to be useful.

I did find it extremely useful for my tour of the southern half of the Sierra Cascades route.  Freshly filtered ice cold water from snow melt streams was great in the 100F heat.

These days with filters that weigh less than two ounces the decision to carry one does have a lot less of a downside.

General Discussion / Re: Transamerica trail temperatures
« on: February 27, 2017, 07:22:22 am »
If for camping, you probably do not need to consider the weather on the passes, because you're not likely to camp on the passes. Anyway, I plan my clothing and camping choices to be the least that will keep me alive in the worst possible conditions. It's okay to be uncomfortable in unusual weather--you just don't want to die. I plan my clothing such that on the coldest night, I will be wearing everything I brought at the same time.
^ This except, I want a little better than not dying, I want to be sure of keeping all my fingers and toes :)

For the TA at that time of year, I'd expect frost at some point and to be over 100F at some point.  We did it an exceptionally hot year and 100F a lot of the way, but even on that trip we had some moderately cold nights (never much below 32 F).  One evening it was bitter cold and a howling wind on top of a pass, but we rode down into the next town and it was much warmer where we camped.

Classifieds / Re: Wanted - Bivy Sack
« on: February 23, 2017, 07:37:00 am »
I have used a few.  My thoughts on the ones I have used follow:

REI Minimalist Bivy Sack - Kind of heavy at about 1 pound, but still lighter than the ones that are really small tents.  It was kind of uncomfortable when it was hot, but in warm weather I slept on top of it unless the bugs were biting or it rained.  I do remember one miserable night in Louisiana when it was hot and the skeeters were really bad, but overall it was fine on the trips where I used it.

Borah side zipper ultralight bivy - Much lighter at 7 ounces, packs small, and I found it to be more comfortable when the weather was sticky.

Ti Goat Ptramigan Bug Bivy - Lighter yet, packs smaller, and nice and comfy in hot sticky weather.  It is my first choice if I expect it to be hot and buggy, but if a cold wind is likely the Borah offers more protection from the wind chill.

If it isn't wet, cold, or buggy I usually sleep on top of the bivy until it either gets chilly, the bugs start biting, or rain falls.

In all cases unless I expect to be able to sleep under some kind of shelter (bridge, picnic pavilion, etc.) if it rains, I take some kind of light tarp.  My 7 ounce Integral Designs Siltarp 1 has served me well, but is kind of skimpy in coverage.  If I need to pitch it in wet weather I have had to pitch it really low to get decent coverage.  I recently got a bigger tarp (Sea2Summit Escapist 12.3 ounces).  It is heavier, but if I will actually be pitching it much for wet weather it is really nice.

If wet weather is unlikely any given night I just keep my gear close and the tarp handy.  Then if it rains I pull it over myself and my gear.

General Discussion / Re: Application for keeping a journal
« on: February 21, 2017, 06:22:29 am »
All of the choices have their advantages and disadvantages.

First consider who your audience is.  If you would like to reach the general touring community I think Crazy Guy On a Bike is a slam dunk.  I know that when I did my first coast to coast (Trans America) we met a lot of folks who were doing the route at the same time we were.  It was kind of cool to meet folks in person on the road that we had originally met on cgoab while planning the tour.

If family and friends are the only audience then I'd be more inclined to go with Facebook, especially if short quick updates are what you want.  Using a FB phone app makes it quick and easy.

If you are more interested in doing more writing and are not after the cycling community then Blogger or Wordpress might be the way to go.

On the other hand if you mostly just want to let friends know you are ok and maybe send a picture now and then using group text messages may be the way to go.  Service providers do often have a limit of 10 or 20 addresses for a group text, but I think there are work arounds.

General Discussion / Re: Shipping Bike Box Trans AM
« on: February 20, 2017, 07:09:28 am »
Hi there, I am riding the Trans Am starting on May 1st. I'll be flying in from England to Washington Dulles. I was thinking of using a hard case bike box for the flight over and then shipping the empty box across from VA to Astoria when I arrive so it would be available for the return journey. My question is - does anyone know if there are storage facilities or bike shops that would store a bike box for 3 months while I'm cycling across country, obviously going from East to West.  Many thanks,

My suggestion is to just email a few shops that are conveniently located for your needs.  A warmshowers host may be willing to help or maybe even someone here on this forum or on bikeforums.  I often see posts on BF from a guy who works at a bike shop in Astoria (FietsBob).  He can probably advise about Astoria generally and the shop he works at specifically.  Maybe look him up?

All that said, I'd just use a cardboard box, discard it, and pick up a new one at the end.

General Discussion / Re: Bike security - Southern Tour camping trip
« on: February 08, 2017, 09:34:02 am »
I carried a minimal cable lock and used it only rarely.  In bigger more risky towns I took my bike inside. 

In some places where mountain passes have really deep snowpack they plow out only one lane and let the sun melt it out before reopening.
 My limited experience with snow on mountain roads that do get plowed each snowfall is that the don't plow the shoulders.  I have generally found the traffic light enough in those places that I didn't mind riding in the lane.

General Discussion / Re: Training program recommendations
« on: February 06, 2017, 07:13:11 am »
Another question - recognizing that saddle comfort is highly individual, can anyone point me to a saddle that you really love for a long tour (6 hrs per day on the bike)?
I really like the WTB Volt series of saddles.  That said I am not very fussy about saddles and would happily ride another coast to coast trip on any of the saddles that came with my bikes.  I used to like my Prologo Kappa the best, but find the Volt nicer.  I usually stick with the saddles that are on my bikes, but if I were to bother to switch saddles for a long tour, I'd put the Volt on.

I think that by allowing myself to do some long mileage on any saddle that I have on my bike I generally find that it is okay once I adjust to it.  I rode the Trans America with the cheap saddle that came with my Windsor Touring and was okay with it.  I thought it was terrible when I first tried it, but after a few hundred miles of adjustment period I decided I would stick with it and it has been fine.

On Brooks saddles...  The one B17 that I have owned was my least favorite saddle of any that I have owned.  It was just okay when new and got worse as it broke in.  It eventually got pretty uncomfortable when fully broken in.

Gear Talk / Re: 30 Day Tour Packing List? Hotel every 5 days'ish!
« on: February 02, 2017, 06:13:30 am »
I'd recommend that you pack about the same as you would for a backpacking trip, if any of your camping experience was backpacking.  I go really minimal, carrying as little as 9 pounds, but sometimes a bit more.  In the past I carried a heavier load, but found that I liked a minimalist approach.  How heavy or minimalist you go is personal preference, but I'd advise watching the ounces regardless of which way you go.

FWIW length of trip doesn't affect my packing list much if at all.  I carry the same for a few days as for crossing the continent.

Definitely buy food as you go with only a little extra carried for those times where you may wind up unable to stock up for a day or so.

Routes / Re: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« on: January 24, 2017, 05:28:25 pm »
The difference is that I recognize that some folks, including myself, have a very specific window that they can get away from job/family/whatever. I assumed what he had was March and that's what he wants to see. The SC is out but I'd do the WE in March if thats the only time I could get away.

Some of how well that works may have to do with how open ended the schedule is.  There may be fresh snow and a delay while snow melts or roads are cleared.

FWIW, the Southern Tier isn't my favorite route, but if I had to go in February or March, I'd most likely ride the ST again.  Even there there could be a delay if fresh snow falls, but the roads will typically be clear pretty soon.

Routes / Re: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« on: January 24, 2017, 06:53:35 am »
Tioga Pass would certainly be closed.  Large amounts of snow pack at higher elevations elsewhere are likely. Fresh snowfall is likely at higher elevations.  Camp grounds would be closed most places.  The year I did it the facilities in Yosemite, other than in the valley were all closed until July.  Tioga Pass opened in June that year, some year it opens a bit earlier or later.  I wouldn't try it in March unless it was a VERY low snowpack year and probably not even then.

I am less familiar with the WE, my guess is that it would have similar issues, but I think it does stay lower than the SC so may be passible earlier.  I doubt that it would be doable March.  Others with a better familiarity of the WE will hopefully speak up.

Routes / Re: Another way to cope with dogs
« on: January 17, 2017, 02:25:38 pm »
A good chunk of the TransAm lore would be lost if the Kentucky dogs were eliminated. Dogs can certainly be a problem, but it's another one of the exciting challenges of the TransAm. It's not an insurmountable problem. To me, Kentucky was an unfamiliar and mostly welcoming world, and I would not want to miss it.

I agree.  Besides they really weren't that bad.  Also I have been chased by dogs lots of other places as well including Oregon, California, Kansas, and quite a few other places not in the SE.

The worst most scary dog encounters for me were in the Central Valley of California.  That is the one and only place in all of my touring where I was actually scared that I might be seriously injured or worse by three dogs that caught up with me on an uphill.  That same day a few other apparently vicious dogs chased us.

Gear Talk / Re: Lightweight touring bike?
« on: January 10, 2017, 09:57:22 am »
Quote from: staehpj1
Just one data point.  I did the ST with a 25" low gear.  I was 60, not especially fit, and carrying 14 pounds of gear (base weight).  The 25" gear was okay.
Doesn't the ST route avoid the high mountains of the west and the steepest hills of the Appalachian/Blue ridge/Smokies if TN,KY and VA?
The ST avoids the Appalachians altogether and crosses the Western Mountains by what is probably the easiest route.  It does still cross the mountains, has some fairly long steep climbs, and tops out at a little over 8200'.

Given that the OP was asking about the Underground Railroad route, I am guessing that there was more climbing on the ST than what he is proposing doing, but I have not done the UGRR and have not looked at elevation profiles for it.  While it apparently crosses no mountain ranges it may have steep hills, so I have no idea how two compare the two.

FWIW, I did the Trans America some years earlier (when I was 56), carrying a fairly heavy load (about 50 pounds base gear weight), and using a low gear of almost 22".  It was OK, but I wouldn't have minded slightly lower gearing.

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